Documentation and Assessment: Our Journey in Play…

“Teachers of young children can serve as a memory, a record of an experience that can be revisited. This function can be served by writing down what the children say and then reading these words back to to the child on a later day when the children are trying to extend their understanding of something.  Or the teacher can show the children photographs of the experience and ask them to use the photographs to help them remember what they were doing and thinking during that experience.

There is a difference between remembering what one did and revisiting the experience.  For remembering, the children are content with a simple listing of what they did…. Revisiting is just that, a return to a place of significance for the purpose of reestablishing friendly relations and establishing new relations…” P. 247-248 in Hundred Languages

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The children had been used to seeing photographs from our trip to the bakery during our Circle Time, but they hadn’t seen it all put together until now.  It was fun to not only hear their memories, but make connections from early experiences to later ones.

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After the children looked at the photographs, their drawings and thoughts displayed, they began to interact with the display through their play:

Cora- “Welcome to the bakery!”

Camden- “This is a cake. I’ll put it here.”

Cora- “This is a heart, like this!” (She takes a heart shaped cookie cutter and matches it to the bakery menu).

Penelope- “Here Mama, this is for you!”

Camden- “Matches! Look it matches!” (He gets excited as he associates what he created looks like what is on the child-created menu).

The Bakery Menu is a meaningful compilation of the children's work during the Bakery project of study.  Photographs of their creative representations of bakery items were compiled together to make a menu, an artifact that will continue to be used in their play.
The Bakery Menu is a meaningful compilation of the children’s work during the Bakery project of study. Photographs of their creative representations of bakery items were compiled together to make a menu, an artifact that will continue to be used in their play.

The 4 year olds who displayed a developmental readiness for writing down their letter/sound relationships were encouraged to write some items for the menu.  Both children showed great understanding of hearing the beginning and ending sounds of some words (Heart Cookie), and the harder sounds in the middle of words (Cookie and Cupcake).  This early stage of writing is connecting that phonemic awareness into print. More on writing and developmental stages in another post…

(Assessment) “is done in order to understand children–their schema, feelings, interests, dispositions, and capabilities.  This knowledge makes it possible for teachers to plan learning experiences that are meaningful and yet challenging to children. Assessment of this nature is not focused on what children cannot do, but rather on what they can do, independently, with assistance, and in different kinds of social contexts.” P. 252 Hundred Languages

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The children’s interest in the bakery was “dying down,” so it seemed like a good time to display our process.  The interest may continue for some and now it might increase since each child got to take home a Bakery Menu artifact to use in their pretend play at home.  However, it was our “last class” for a while because this Mama Reggio Blogger is expecting another baby in a couple weeks! We are ending the “school year” early so to speak.  After we meet the newest member of our family, we’ll be figuring out the Summer and Fall months to see where our Reggio inspirations take us.

Until then, I hope you feel inspired to look at children more deeply, learning more openly and teaching more creatively.

My personal “Reggio Goals” are to delve deeper into the documentation process… With that said, I’ll leave you with one last inspirational quote as you do your best to scribe dialogue and take pictures:

The photograph should be treated as a door to enter a world of possible events, not as a window that pictures a single time and place (Forman, 1995).

Hopefully this post demonstrates how closely connected documentation and assessment were in our Bakery journey of learning through play.

Now get outside and play! 😉 (And maybe try documenting the play while having fun with your kiddos). 🙂

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